While many people use the new year as a time to get their financial house in order, any time is a good time to make smart financial changes.
"It probably is as good as any time," says Bill Wixon, financial planner at Wixon Advisors in Maple Grove.
We sat down with Wixon at his office to learn more about how to pick the right financial planner for you.
Financial advisor or financial planner: What's the difference?
A financial advisor is a broad term that can be used by a banker, investor, broker, or accountant. To be a certified financial planner (CFP), you must pass a rigorous test. "A CFP has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest," says Wixon.
Do your homework
If you have decided you need a financial planner, ask your friends for referrals. You can get referrals from the Certified Financial Planning Association at www.letsmakeaplan.org. You can also verify credentials there.
Once you have a few names, go to www.finra.org and check the name of the person. Any lawsuits or disputes and resolutions will be shown.
Your next step is to set up interviews with a few planners.
Leave the portfolio at home, come armed with good questions
Your interview and/or first meeting with a financial planner should be free. It's a chance to get to know the person, his or her policies, and to see if you can work together.
"The first meeting, I would just bring good questions, questions about experience, about how they work, about their fees, and have those questions written down in advance," says Wixon.
You don't have to have thousands saved up to get started with a financial planner. Some accounts require as little as $100 to get started.
"You don't need much money to get started at all," says Wixon. "If people can just start saving early, they are going to be very grateful."
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